But that is how things are: I am your mother,
I took R to the kid's clinic to get her flu shot on Thursday morning. I had talked to her about it the night before, explaining that it would hurt, but then it would get better; that it was to help keep her healthy so she could play and visit her friends and her new cousin in the spring. It's impossible to say how much of that she understood, but she's been good at getting her jabs so far, so I keep telling her this before we do it.
She only cried for about ten seconds, because she is a courageous baby, but in those seconds she looked at me with such confusion. In that moment, she didn't understand that this painful thing we were doing to her wasn't a betrayal. And in trying to empathize with her, I stumbled onto the Thing I'm Thinking About this week.
For various reasons, this fall has been a series of reflections on things missed, on the choices and events that changed the course of my life. It's come through in the Letters already, in thoughts about the lives I didn't end up living along the way to the one I'm in. Meanwhile, as is often the case due to our ten-year age difference, my sister is going through the same season of choices I've been thinking so much about, and sometimes finding it challenging to make a choice knowing that whatever path doesn't get chosen must be left behind. We can shortcut through the weeds, sometimes, and end up close to where we might have, but we can't go back to the same fork in the road, and the weeds are often prickly.
I'm not an "everything happens for a reason" kind of person; I just don't think the universe is that organized, or that there's anything so much in control. But I do believe that both good and bad things can bring us to good ends. If the worst thing in my life hadn't happened, I almost certainly wouldn't be here, where I am, with Ro and G and this little community of people I've lovingly built around me. Most of my closest friends probably wouldn't be in my life at all. But at the time, there was no way I could have known that all of that wasn't a betrayal. I couldn't have known where it would go.
Not everything happens for a reason. Many things that happen are, in fact, terrible and meaningless, and remain so for a very long time. But they change our course, and, sometimes, steering into the skid is what saves us. We build what we can with the pieces we have, and when it falls apart, we build again.
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